A small list of popular unwanted gifts and the impact of its wastage.   

Sonal Agarwal

Staff Writer

     According to finder.com, approximately $15.2 billion in total has been wasted on unwanted Christmas gifts throughout the United States overall. The average Christmas spending price amounts to around $900, as stated by capitalcounselor.com. Seeing a splurge in Christmas gift shopping is not anything new; as holidays like Christmas become more commercialized, people tend to spend more on retail products for gift-giving. Feeding into this consumerist culture surrounding Christmas, a large amount of gift and money wastage occurs. People buy gifts for others on the basis of formality instead of seeking something the receiver can actually use, causing many presents to never be utilized and money being spent in the wrong places. 

     In order to alleviate this excessive spending which causes many gifts to either be regifted, thrown out, or placed in a dark closet for the rest of one’s life, here is a list of items shown to be the most unwanted by a finder.com survey. 

  1. Clothing. In theory, giving clothing as a gift sounds very practical. Anyone would want a warm winter hoodie right? 43% of the total 15.2 billion dollars wasted comes from clothing. The reality is that there are simply too many risks in purchasing clothing for others as the clothing may have sizing issues or not fit their personal liking. Clothing should only be considered as a gift when something specific that the receiver has been wanting is known, or a developed idea of their style and preferences is considered. 
  2. Randomly assorted gift sets. Randomly assorted gift sets usually have accessories and toiletries such as lotion, body wash, lotion, hair clips, etc. They can be found in almost any retail store during the holiday season like Macy’s, Target, and Walmart. Although usually on the cheaper side, the issue with these gift assortments is that the portions of the products tend to be very small and expendable, very easily becoming a waste of space on a shelf. Because of their price, these items tend to lack in quality and many may not even bother opening them. As an alternative, purchasing one or two good quality skin/body care products instead of a large gift set with random items may be a lot more appreciated, while staying in the price range. 
  3. Unnecessary household contraptions. The name may bring ambiguity of what exactly is considered an “unnecessary household contraption” but they’ve definitely been seen before. Some examples that fit this category are random inventions that are commonly sold on TV and seen in commercials such as soda-making machines, automatic jar openers, cup holders, etc. Some of these random inventions can price up to about $30 despite being excessive or having no use at all. Household items also ranked second highest on the unwanted gifts list, making up about 20% of the total 15.2 billion dollars wasted. 

     In regards to gift-giving, people often think “it’s the thought that counts,” which is definitely true. However, under this mentality, a lot of money is wasted. Losing the formality that surrounds holiday gift-giving and actually searching for gifts based on the recipient’s interests would allow for many savings. In situations where the receiver’s interests are unknown, presents like cash and gift cards may be a safer route to take as they would allow the recipient to have more control over purchases. It is still inevitable to receive a gift at some point that may be considered unwanted. In scenarios like this, it is best to donate to local Christmas drives and charities where someone might be able to find good use of someone else’s unwanted gift. Donating and cutting down on excessive Christmas spending would create a much more sustainable environment and disperse gifts among more people. 

     With Christmas approaching this Winter Break, it may come as a surprise just how much waste comes with unwanted Christmas gifts during the season. While shopping for friends and family this year, it is important to understand what to prioritize and avoid so that everyone is able to make wise purchases during this festive month. 

“The Automatic Jar Opener” found on hammacher.com selling for almost $30. Example of an unnecessary gift due to its price as well as other alternatives being available to open jars, such as using silverware and napkins to strengthen grip. 
“The Ultimate Drink Holder” found on Amazon.com selling for $25. This product can be seen as extraneous due to its price as well as other alternatives being accessible. Using small tables or chairs that might already be in the home could be a better, money-saving option.

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